I'm trying to write a recipe in Chinese, in which I'd like to be able to say something along the lines of "first, one must..." (I know , since a recipe is more informal, I could probably use "you" and be fine, but I'd like to know "one" for future reference). I've tried putting various sentences into online translators (eg "one must wait in line", "one should be kind", etc.), and they either drop the subject completely or use "一个人“ as the subject. Is that correct? It sounds somewhat strange to me to either drop a subject in formal writing or just use 一个人, but I'm definitely not a native speaker. How would I express the idea of "one" as the subject of a sentence?

  • iciba.com/one%20must
    – user6065
    Apr 6, 2019 at 12:10
  • @user6065; I think my question still stands; is it okay in literary writing to use 一个人 or drop the subject? Thanks for finding another source though!
    – 米凯乐
    Apr 6, 2019 at 12:18
  • sounds unfamiliar to longtime readers
    – user6065
    Apr 6, 2019 at 12:50

2 Answers 2


Whereas in German the use of 'man' (= one) is still common, not many English speakers (except maybe Elizabeth R) use 'one' anymore, they say 'you' instead. That's what you can do in Chinese too.

One must pay attention in class.

or use nothing in an imperative sentence:

One must pay attention in class.

One must pay attention to the traffic signs.

Don't go randomly using 一个人, though in the right context that could work too.

  • What about 某人 for "one"? Apr 8, 2019 at 4:15
  • 某人 = somebody, can't see that working.
    – Pedroski
    Apr 8, 2019 at 5:53

“one” can be translated as 一个人,but usually that translation is not literary enough I think. You can translate it as “顾客” (client )in this situation. If this word is used in hospital,“病人” is though to be a better translation. Therefore,the proper translation is related to the situation you are in.

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